Whilst technically Westminster does have the power to block a second referendum, it is folly for David Cameron to suggest he would do so.
As it stands, Nicola Sturgeon has no mandate to ask for a second “once in a lifetime” referendum. Indeed, she has all but ruled it out. Within this context, David Cameron’s comments only serve to entrench hard-core nationalists and increase the likelihood of a referendum commitment in the 2016 SNP manifesto.
If David Cameron wants to shoot Ms Sturgeon’s fox, a much smarter thing to do would be to offer her Full Fiscal Autonomy on the 18 month schedule she advocated for independence. The state of Scotland’s fiscal position would mean that she could never accept it. Game over.
Such a move by Cameron will simultaneously split the SNP and force a realistic discussion about the challenges the Scottish economy faces.
A further upside of this move is that there would be no commitment to a second referendum in the 2016 SNP manifesto. Perhaps then nationalist political class in Scotland could get on with using the powers it has to contribute to running the country, rather than continually using the constitution as an excuse for failing to help the vulnerable.